Sunday, 15 December 2013

Fountain pens

My eyes can't cope so well with screens these days. So I'm starting to return to an earlier technology for communicating the written word.

It's perhaps ironic that someone who has spent his working life researching new digital technologies should now be forced to return to pen and paper. But this isn't just about avoiding intense luminescent glare. It's also a way of slowing me down: Using ink removes the option of continuous re-editing; and so I'm forced to look away to think more often, which lessens the strain on my eye muscles.

My concentration is also rather poor these days, and it's somewhat of a relief to forsake the stimulating, complex distractions of 21st century computers for the simplicity of drawing lines on paper. My mind is jumbled enough: it's time to try an aesthetically calming, more linear experience.

Of course I'm all too aware of what I'm missing. It was my job to find that out.

(I'm also surrounded by beautiful books that I can't read, but that's a story for another day.)

Anyway, to cheer myself up, and to convince myself that it's not technology I'm turning my back on, but screens, and to reward myself for 14 years of fighting drowsiness, dizziness and blurred vision, I've decided to treat myself to a posh fountain pen. My trusty Pilot V5 Hi-Tecpoint needlepoint rollerballs have served me well for 25 years, but they are for scribbled notes and hurried lists rather than the gently flowing script I'm after.

Recently I've been enjoying the cheap and cheerful Lamy Safari.

For smoothness I actually prefer it to the slightly more expensive and stylish Parker and Sheaffer pens I used at school.

But I could also do with a pen that has a little bit more heft and class... for that magnum opus, you understand ;-)

So here are some more fountain pens I'd like to try at some point, all of which I've heard good things about...

Lamy 2000
The Safari's big brother. The 14k gold nib is platinum-coated. A slightly more grown up pen, now that I've grown up a bit! I suspect I'd see this pen as my practical, no-nonsense workhorse.

Visconti Van Gogh
A lovely-looking pen, crafted in resin, with a steel nib. This version is inspired by van Gogh's "Bedroom in Arles", a print of which has hung in my bedroom wherever I've lived over 20 years. For that reason, I suspect I'd see this pen as tapping into emotions.

Parker Duofold
A modern version of Parker's 1921 classic. Has an 18k gold nib highlighted with Platinum. A bit more gravitas than my Parker from school days! I suspect this pen would come to symbolise rationality, efficiency, getting on with things.

Pilot Falcon
The nib is rhodium-plated 14k gold and has been made flexible to allow control over line width. A Japanese pen that seems almost painterly in the videos I've seen of it. I think this pen might for me come to represent creativity.

Visconti Homo Sapiens
A real luxury pen, the barrel is made from basaltic lava from Mount Etna! The nib is also rather different, being 23k palladium. For me, this pen would symbolise something more primal than the others, shaped by unimaginably powerful forces hidden under the surface. A soul pen.

Of course the symbolism of these pens is just a bit of fun, and might turn out to be nothing like my expectations.

Any other suggestions for pens I should consider would be gratefully received!

P.S. As you can imagine, given what I've said earlier about screens, blogging isn't something I'm intending to do in large doses in the foreseeable future. And most of my time is currently spent trying to keep myself fed and not overly decrepit. But I will be trying to keep up with old friends and new by dipping into Facebook and Twitter.